Hull Truck pantomime Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker goes online for free

The invitation to Hull Truck Theatre’s streamed pantomime, Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker

HULL Truck Theatre’s Christmas show, Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker, will be streamed for free on YouTube from 7pm tonight (22/12/2020).

Written and directed by artistic director by Mark Babych, the virtual show will be available to watch on-demand until January 3.

“Christmas is a time of year when fairy-tale heroes and villains are a firm feature in the plays and pantos that so many of us love to experience as part of the festive calendar,” says Mark.

“Covid-19 is certainly this year’s villain but this year we have so many heroes to thank. We’re delighted the show can be enjoyed by audiences across the region and that we can continue to support artists and freelancers in what’s been an incredibly difficult year for the industry.” 

After Hull’s Tier 3 status under the Government’s pandemic strictures put paid to performances at the Ferensway theatre, a partnership between Hull Truck, Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council is bringing the Christmas show for free to Hull and East Yorkshire residents, schools, care homes and community groups.

From invitations sent with Christmas Day food parcels to online workshops and resource packs for schools, the innovative partnership aims to maximise the reach and impact of theatre while spreading festive joy.  

Every Hull and East Yorkshire household is invited to join Prince Charming from the comfort of home from this evening as he throws open the palace gates for his annual Christmas ball in Hull Truck’s festive fairytale adventure sprinkled with surprises, sparkle and a hint of magic. 

Online audiences for this uplifting shared theatrical experience are promised festive music, karaoke, unexpected guests and lashings of humour in “a ‘do’ like never before, with what is hoped to bring a dose of excitement and happiness at the end of this challenging year”. 

Here to entertain you…remotely: Director Mark Babych, front, and his Hull Truck Theatre cast for Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker, Joanna Holden, left, Louise Willoughy, Laurie Jamieson, Rachel Dale and Amelia Donkor. Picture: Karl Andre Photography

Rehearsals under Babych’s direction were on the cusp of starting when the country went into Lockdown 2. Given the continued restrictions, uncertainty and acknowledgement of the impact art and culture has on wellbeing, Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council stepped in, not only to ensure the show could go on, but also could be enjoyed by households across the region and beyond, “connecting families even if they’re not watching from the same sofa”. 

Janthi Mills-Ward, Hull Truck’s executive director, says: “This is the first time we’ve worked together with our two local councils to fund something like this, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer residents a magical Christmas experience. 

“Engaging in arts and culture has been found to be associated with increased wellbeing and we can’t thank East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Council enough for their support.

“We hope this innovative collaboration brings a little joy and happiness to residents, schools and care homes, with a shared experience for families and friends to enjoy together, whether as seasoned or first-time theatre-goers.” 

Councillor Stephen Brady, leader of Hull City Council, says: “It’s been a tremendously difficult year for all of us. Christmas is a special time, but sadly this year certain Christmas traditions cannot be celebrated in the usual ways.

“Going to the theatre, whether it be to see a pantomime or a retelling of one of our favourite Christmas tales, is, for many people, one of the highlights of the festive period. 

“Credit to Hull Truck for ensuring families and residents can still enjoy and experience the fun of the theatre this Christmas. Hull City Council is delighted to be able to support the performance and we wish all residents a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.” 

Councillor Richard Burton, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, says: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to contribute to this exciting project, which we see as vital in engaging with all our local audiences in these challenging times. 

Council meeting: Local authority leaders, theatre directors and the pantomime cast gather outside Hull Truck Theatre: from left, Janthi Mills-Ward, Laurie Jamieson, Councillor Stephen Brady, Joanna Holden, Louise Willoughby, Rachel Dale, Councillor Richard Burton, Amelia Donkor and Mark Babych. Picture: Karl Andre

“Whether residents at home, schools, or residents in care homes, we all need the uplift that the performing arts can bring, and the connections it can make between us all. I’m really looking forward to seeing what promises to be a real cracker of a show.” 

As an interactive experience, with behind-the-scenes footage and backstage views, the streamed performance will be different to watching a film or show on TV.

Janthi says: “The streaming has been created to encapsulate those magical moments of a theatrical experience, as opposed to a film or television programme. The production will give people the opportunity to enjoy the show together, even if they’re watching in different homes.

“Whether you want to get dressed up and recreate the theatre experience at home, create a den or stay cosy on the sofa, we hope the live streaming offers a festive experience for the whole family to enjoy. 

“Theatre is a cornerstone at Christmas, so, alongside this exciting project, we’ve been working in partnership with KCOM to release four short family Christmas films in the run-up to Christmas that are set across Hull and East Riding as we continue to connect friends, families and communities through the magic of storytelling.”

Should you be unable to attend Prince Charming’s virtual ball this evening, worry not. The performance will be available for residents and care homes to watch from tomorrow (23/12/2020) to January 3, while schools and community groups will have access for the weeks beginning January 4 and January 11 2021, complemented by the accompanying resource pack.

Tickets are not required. Instead, the YouTube link will be made available on Hull Truck’s website,, and social media channels.

Ticket holders for the cancelled live performances at Hull Truck have been contacted to discuss options.